“What God can prevent in His power, He permits in His wisdom” – Arthur Burt.
Childlike faith, it would seem, does not just happen for everyone. Like me, you may have many unanswered questions. Why didn’t God prevent this from happening? Why hasn’t He changed this situation? Sure enough, we have questioned why our path has led us through pain and sorrow, why should we have to suffer this way? After all, my husband and I have honoured and served God in all the ways we know possible, so how come things worked out this way? Did Jesus sit on His hands and let our babies death top the broken heart charts for my husband and I?
Many times people are perplexed that I choose to glorify God, they have questioned how I can still believe in God, let alone trust in His goodness? They perceive that when I was trusting in Him, He let me down?! I have grappled in my mind with these arguments for the past five years. Is God good? Does He love me? Why do bad things happen to good people? In fact, why do bad things happen at all? Finally, I grew tired of trying to figure it all out and made the choice to trust in the Word of God and as a result, my faith has been renewed and I have entered His rest. I rest in Him and choose to believe that God holds all of my tomorrow’s and come what may, He is good all the time… and all the time He is good. x
I find as often as the seasons change so to does my reading genre. As Spring is upon us I am drawn to the life in the air… flowers in bloom, bees are buzzing and resurrection life is apparent as buds of life burst forth from the barren winter branch of the old Wattle tree in our front yard.
The thought of new life, of resurrection life, has me seeking a deeper heart revelation of His resurrection… what does it look like to live on the resurrection side of the cross? Why is it that many Christians have a reputation of living their lives as though He isn’t risen, lives that are joy-less, hope-less, grace-less? Pondering these thoughts has led me to re-read Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace” , in the first chapter I am captivated by a quote that Yancey has cited, rather it is a column written by humourist Erma Bombeck:
In church the other Sunday I was intent on a small child who was turning around smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. He was just smiling. Finally, his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a little theatre off Broadway said, “Stop that grinning! You’re in church!” With that, she gave him a belt and as the tears rolled down his cheeks she added, “That’s better,” and returned to her prayers…
Suddenly I was angry. It occurred to me the entire world is in tears, and if your not, then you’d better get with it. I wanted to grab this child with the tear-stained face close to me and tell him about my God. The happy God. The smiling God. The God who had to have a sense of humor to have created the likes of us… By tradition, one wears faith with solemnity of a mourner, the gravity of a mask of tragedy, and the dedication of a Rotary badge.
What a fool, I thought. Here was a woman sitting next to the only light left in our civilisation – the only hope, our only miracle – our only promise of infinity. If he couldn’t smile in church, where was there left to go?
On that note… time to go be with my children (they leak joy all over the place)! x
Jesus says, ‘… In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV)
Jesus knew well in advance that this life would be full of trouble, He has not promised when you believe in Him your life will be trouble-free, He has promised though that no matter what you face He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Trust me, when I gave my heart to Jesus there were no bolts of lightning tracking through the sky, the devil didn’t send me a congratulations card and wipe me off his list, what did happen though was a deep peace moved into my spirit.
Peace like no other, to this day has been my anchor in the storms. I am almost certain, had I not been anchored in Him throughout the past few years, I quite possibly would have ended my life. In His Grace, Mercy and immeasurable love I have been made whole, complete in Him.
Whatever storms you may be going through stand fast, let the winds blow and when things settle you will look back and see His Sovereign hand has drawn a line of purpose through that which you thought you would never survive.
Writing for this blog has been elusive for the past few months, life’s like that sometimes… elusive, indefinable and mysterious. As life’s circumstances have flooded in I found myself swept away, adrift in a sea of worry and anxiety dumbfounded with not much to say about anything. There was the issue… I had nothing to say, instead I just let life’s blows back me into a corner feeling beaten and defeated.
I panicked ‘God no I can’t be depressed again’, ‘I have been healed, delivered and set free’, I affirmed myself… then I heard the Lord say ‘speak to your circumstances’! ‘The circumstances are your reality but they are not Truth’!
Oh boy did I open my mouth and speak! Here I was shouting and bouncing around like a shadow boxer, my mind grew fierce with determination as I declared ‘no weapon formed against me shall prosper’ (Isaiah 54:17) , ‘God has a good plan for my life, plans to prosper me and give me a future and a hope’ (Jeremiah 29:11) and ‘Lord you promised that you will keep me in perfect peace as my mind is stayed on you’ (Isaiah 26:3) the more I declared scripture, that which was overwhelming and vying for my attention dimmed to a dull shadow in the Light of Truth.
Our words carry creative power, Romans 4:17 implores us to ‘call those things that are not as though they already were’. However, when we are exhausted, distracted and not made time to ‘come away’ with Him it’s easy to speak negative and talk about all that is wrong in our lives. Lesson learned… keep my eyes on Him, my mind on His promises, and be ready to spring into action speaking the Word at the onset of a downward spiral. Needless to say I am ready to ‘get back in the ring’ and this time I will stand until the final round’. 😉
Often times when I begin to get caught up with thoughts of ‘why me?’ and I lose perspective, per se. I am reminded of my blind father and his ability to press on and persevere in spite of his afflictions. I have wonderful eyesight, what a great blessing!
Helen Keller overcame the adversity of losing sight and hearing at age two, although faced with unthinkable circumstances, Keller counted each day as blessed, she once said “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart”.
When we read what the apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians it becomes clear that our perspective on life will determine our level of contentment. Paul wrote from a jail cell;
“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am”. Philippians 4:12 (MSG)
It’s so easy to get stuck in the ‘why me ‘trap, believe me I know.
In recent years, ‘why me’? has been the mantra of my life that was, until I realised, ‘hey why not me’? When we develop the ability to look at the tough times from a new position, we can embrace life as a journey of valley’s and mountaintops, all of which God draws a line of purpose through the centre of it all. Today, whether you find yourself in a valley, or upon a mountaintop, be encouraged…
“Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way…” Hebrews 12:2 (MSG Version)
“Emotions are like a spoiled child, indulge them and they’ll control you” – Bob Gass
We all have emotions the key is learning how to manage emotions and not allow them to manage us. Emotions are fickle, my firsthand advice; don’t over indulge your emotions or they will mess up your day!
In particular with depression, as you first begin to ‘opt in’ to doing life again the mood swings can be overwhelming, one moment feeling that depression has lifted and your emotions are high, ie. you catch yourself laughing or simply smiling, the following moment feeling completely defeated and easily snap at the slightest upset. This unstable behaviour would leave me feeling terrible about myself, it was hard on me as well as everyone around me. Often when I would have a good moment or even a good day, my mind would be consumed with the thought ‘this is too good to be true, it probably won’t last’ on the heels of such thinking was an emotion attached… a deep wave of depression would overwhelm me once again.
A very valuable lesson I have learned, having suffered depression, it is easy to mistake a bad day/flat feeling as being a relapse back into a depressed state. Looking back on my rollercoaster of emotions, I see clearly now that every moment of my day was based on how I was feeling as opposed to living by faith… I was being controlled by my emotions.
Considering we are body, soul and spirit, if we are to be ‘led by the spirit’ it is most important to make emotional maturity our goal and walk in the spirit as opposed to being led by emotions. Joyce Meyer explains; “We must learn to trust that God knows what He is doing in us. If we feel something in our emotions, that is fine. If we do not feel anything, that is fine too. We must remember that we are in this for the long haul – not just for those times when we feel good, but also for those times when we feel bad or do not feel anything at all…” Yup in this for the long haul, now hush those emotions and keep on the lookout for pinching Angels 😉 x
In my experience with healing from depression, I met many well-meaning Christians that were intent on spiritualising every aspect of my condition… everything was a stronghold or a soul tie, and yet most days I clearly heard the Lord say ‘rest is the most spiritual thing you can do today’.
It is true our battle is not against flesh and blood, there is a spiritual realm in which we must contend for healing (see Ephesians 6:12).
However if we are to contend for healing, I believe it is not to give the enemy so much ‘air time’ that we become paranoid and look for a demon under every rock. Rather I suggest we must embrace what needs to be addressed for spiritual health (prayer, deliverance, repentance etc.) alongside applying some practical steps towards healing our physical bodies.
Recently I read a daily devotion penned by L.B Cowman Streams In The Desert, she writes on the issue of confounding physical weariness with spiritual weakness:
And what did God do with His tired servant? Gave him something good to eat and put him to sleep. Elijah had done splendid work and had run alongside of the chariot in his excitement, and it had been too much for his physical strength, and the reaction had come on and he was depressed. The physical needed to be cared for. What many people want is sleep and the physical ailment attended to. There are grand men and women who get where Elijah was- under a juniper tree! And it comes very soothingly to such to hear the words of the Master: “The journey is too great for thee, and I am going to refresh you.”
Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is rest, along with spiritual laws we also must address the natural laws of ‘something good to eat and a good sleep’… today, give yourself permission to rest and have something good to eat 😉 X
Passion creates freedom regardless of circumstance, for example; when I was in depression my will every morning was to stay in bed and literally curl up to die, however when I made the choice to get passionate about being well again I began to challenge my ‘will to stay in bed’… remaining a prisoner to my thoughts.
I recall asking myself “what action would I take if I didn’t have these thoughts?’ my answer ‘I’d put on my shoes and get out for a run’ well, revelation hit me like a tonne of bricks! In that moment I had realised regardless of how I was feeling, regardless of my circumstances, there was freedom to be found in the simple act of putting on my running shoes. I determined to challenge my depressed will, dragged myself out of bed, put my joggers on and went for a run.
I cried every step of the way, a mix of emotions swung like a pendulum, sad with grief one moment then overwhelmed with joy the next. I remember running out amongst the hills where we live, I made my way down a dirt track toward a herd of brown cows. Before my season of depression, I would take a daily run on the same route, the cow paddock was my 20 min turnaround point. Often I would stop at the cows and enjoy the simplicity of chewing the cud and just being what they were created to be, no striving, just being. This run was different, it was almost as though I had found a long lost friend, a friend whom I was convinced would never return… I had found me! When I reached the cow paddock I stood and watched for awhile all at once I felt ‘normal’, even a bubble of joy in my spirit, in that moment, I cried out to the cows ‘I am back’!.
There’s something powerful about rejoicing in the midst of problems, by the simple act of doing what previously (before depression) would make me feel good, something in the atmosphere of my depressed state began to shift. Joy is a powerful weapon, despite how you may be feeling start to take steps to partake in things that use to make you feel good. Once I had decided to make it my passion to get well I continued to take action by choosing to get into life as I knew it. Gradually the depression lifted I began to experience hours, days and eventually weeks of feeling happy. Often times I would be overwhelmed with thoughts of giving up, ‘joy will never be mine it just won’t last’ then the Holy Spirit would bring to mind the story in Luke 17:12 there were ten lepers crying out to Jesus ‘have mercy on us’. “So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.” Vs 14 (NKJV) Healed as they went!
Belligerent faith must become the very essence of who you are, passionate to be well, eager to fight for complete healing and restoration even when nothing much seems to have changed. Just like the ten lepers, you will be healed as you ‘go’, go out and engage in life, go to read your Bible, go run – go!